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Don't be afraid to fail: A US Army veteran's advice to entrepreneurs

Don't be afraid to fail: A US Army veteran's advice to entrepreneurs

Ladderworks Spiffy Interview Ellis S Chang

Hi everyone! So delighted to bring to you this interview of US Army veteran and Harvard alum, ELLIS S CHANG.

SPIFFY: What challenge are you addressing? 

ELLIS: I helped start a digital media & web design company called Story Media Labs to help small business owners and nonprofits communicate their stories and stand out, particularly in the DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia area.

SPIFFY: Why do you do it?

ELLIS: As the son of South Korean immigrants to America, I witnessed the struggles of small business owners firsthand. My parents, just like most small business owners, took a leap of faith without knowing all of the pitfalls of the business. They could have benefited from someone who understood the culture and how to connect with locals. I want to be able to help small business owners and non-profits optimize their work so they can connect with local clients by using technology, analytics, and processes they may not be familiar with. 

SPIFFY: Tell me about a recent milestone by your organization. What impact does that make?  

ELLIS: We helped a local nonprofit raise more than $60,000 for relief and educational efforts abroad by helping them produce a film to share the purpose of their fundraising efforts.

SPIFFY: What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?  

ELLIS: My kids have taught me the importance of being present. The world demands that we constantly multi-task, especially as we merge home and work life during this pandemic; but there’s value in focusing on one matter at a time and holding off distractions. My kids are appreciative when I’m fully engaged.

SPIFFY: What is another thing you’ve learned as an entrepreneur that has helped you in your journey/career?

ELLIS: Don’t be afraid to fail. As an Army veteran, I always had to have a plan and two back-up plans. In war, failure was not an option. But when it comes to entrepreneurship, iterations are the best way to test your ideas. Test them early and often, and don’t let overthinking keep you from acting.

Ellis is an entrepreneur driven by a desire to help people genuinely connect. He is an Army combat veteran, a Harvard Kennedy School alumnus, and a father of three. He enjoys serving his community, building things, and being outdoors.